News: ‘Ospreys’ team up for training
Story by Lance Cpl. Lisa Tourtelot
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. - The war in the arid region of Afghanistan presents a difficult problem: dirt blown up by the rotor wash of a helicopter or tilt-rotor aircraft can create dust storms that temporarily blind pilots and crew chiefs.
In order to prepare for this, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadrons 161 and 561 partnered to practice landing and inserting troops in a tight formations in the desert near Yuma, Ariz., Jan. 11.
The squadrons use detailed and realistic scenarios to replicate the dangerous conditions pilots and crew chiefs can face in Afghanistan.
The day’s scenario had three aircraft from VMM-161 flying from the “Republic of Kalifornia” to “Centralia,” where they had to safely land and insert a platoon of infantry Marines. Though neither country existed and there were no Marines to be inserted, the Marines of 161 and 561 took the opportunity to rehearse these dangerous landings very seriously.
The “Greyhawks” of VMM-161 could deploy as early as August. The squadron will need to employ these troop insertion and extraction techniques in hostile situations, explained Sgt. Austin Flint, a crew chief with VMM-161.
Master Sgt. Michael Brodeur, a maintenance chief with VMM-561, explained that the overall mission of MV-22 squadrons is to get Marines and supplies on target. The objectives can range from delivering supplies to disaster victims or to inserting troops into a combat zone.
Flint added that these detailed scenarios represent possible deployment missions and give the pilots and crew chiefs practice in realistic conditions.
VMM-161 first transitioned to the Osprey in December of 2009 after nearly 44 years with the CH-46 “Sea Knight.” Despite the squadron’s long history with the Sea Knight, many believe the Osprey is a positive change.
“It was an improvement in Iraq,” said Brodeur. “It has longer range capability, a more versatile platform, more speed and comfort. Though I will miss hanging out the door [of the CH-46].”
The “Pale Horses” of VMM-561 have no aircraft, so pilots, crew chiefs and mechanics do their training with the “Greyhawks” and VMM-166 “Sea Elks.”
“With the MV-22 community, it’s a unique situation,” said Brodeur. “[The MV-22 community doesn’t] have enough aircraft, so we have to depend on each other. I fly with 161 and 166 often.”
While the squadrons grow and await more new aircraft, they continue to train together using detailed and realistic scenarios.